Sunday, March 24, 2013


Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, March 24, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013


At the Miles for Music 20K two weeks ago Kevin Higgins of Randolph  won his age division in 1:17:33 and made it to fourth place in the age grading at 83.8 % PLP.  It might have been his highest PLP but two weeks after the race he hadn’t checked to see what it was.  Never one to blow his own horn, Higgins said modestly he might just be aging more gracefully.

“I’ve never had a lot of down time,” he said.  I’ve managed to stay healthy over the years.”

This time of the year, and training for the Boston Marathon, Higgins is now running doubles several days a week.

“Where I might have done 8 or 10 in the morning I’m now doing 3 to 5 in morning and 3 to five in the afternoon,” he said.

He did just one run on Friday because he scheduled a long run on Saturday; a twenty miler as a final tune-up before Boston.  He runs with a small group that goes out around 6:30 a.m.  After a mile or two warm-up they will quicken to marathon goal pace and hold that for ten to twelve miles, followed by a cool down.  Higgins believes such runs, or longer races like the 20K two weeks ago, are a critical part of his marathon build-up. 

“It was a good sign for Boston, assuming everything else cooperates,” said Higgins.  “I like to run a half or some kind of longer race a month or so before the marathon.  It gives me a sense for what kind of pace I should be running.”

He said that pace is the most important decision.  Most people go out too fast.  He’s done better using the Tortoise and the Hare approach; going out slow and running negative splits.

He admits that it is not easy to do in Boston where the first ten miles are very fast with the gradual downhills.  But he feels that living in Morris County helps when hitting the hills later in the race.

“The hills in Boston are not really that challenging for what we are used to running,” he said.  “It’s still intimidating.  It’s never fun to run up any hill at mile sixteen or twenty-one in a marathon.  But none the less I think we’re prepared for it.”

“Ask me if I still agree with that at mile twenty-two in three weeks and see if I still agree with that,” he said with a chuckle.

This Boston will be his sixty-seventh total and one of a handful of Bostons that he has done over the years but the most recent was in 2011.  He missed the “hot one” that nearly wiped out the field in 2012. 

When the ING New York City Marathon that was cancelled after Hurricane Sandy last fall, Higgins found a substitute.  In his case it may not have been the best pick.  He choose the Rehoboth Beach Marathon in Delaware on December 8th.  He and the front of the field went off course between mile 17 and 18, following a direction mark on the road that was not meant for the marathoners.  About fifty of the top runners ran an extra three or four tenths of a mile.  Higgins calculates that his time should have been about 2:59 but he is credited with a 3:01.19.

Despite the error Higgins placed second master overall. The man who beat him was a youngster of 41, 12 years his junior.  Higgins lifetime best is 2:46 and he points out the he was never a super star.

“I just haven’t slowed down as much as everybody else,” he said.  “A lot of guys who were ahead of me are now behind me if they are running at all.”

Higgins can be said to eat, sleep, and drink running.  He and his wife Maryellen operate the Runner’s Haven specialty store on Route 10 in Randolph.  They are also the Randolph recreation department coordinators for the youth program that is part of the Morris area Lakeland League.  He had been more active with coaching in the youth program but is now the Randolph High School girls cross country and spring distance coach.

The Higgins three children are all runners like their dad and mom.  Conor runs middle distance at Bentley University in Massachutes.  Conor's twin, Molly, a standout at both swimming and track is now running for Princeton.  Son Seamus is a junior at Randolph High School where he runs the 3,200.  Rounding out the family of runners are the family dogs, Sneakers and Lacey who jump at the chance to go for a run.

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